The extraordinary opportunity of Yale

I write to say how much I appreciated Leland Stange’s ’19 recent guest column on gratitude (“A culture of gratitude”, April 6). It reminded me of my own feelings when I was a freshman here many years ago. All financial aid freshmen donned white jackets and working side by side with dining hall staff — something good for town-gown relations as we enjoyed each other’s company — served food to fellow students, in my case, in Pierson dining hall. Because freshmen in those days were only male, we were called “bursary boys.”

My roommate went off to Paris to study for the summer while I worked on construction to get through school the following fall. I was certainly very aware that the economic circumstances for some of those around me were very different from my own, just as they were in the world outside Yale. But my only feelings — as I reflect back to those times — were ones of overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to receive one of the finest educations in the world in an institution that had been created and sustained by enormous amounts of effort by a great number of people over scores of years. Those feelings carried over to later life when I was lured out of retirement to strengthen Yale’s host community.

So during a time when a sense of entitlement seems to set in very quickly in some quarters, it lifted my spirits to read a column from a freshman who feels as I did as a freshman, and is thankful for all that our University offers for those of us who are fortunate enough to have the extraordinary opportunity to be educated at Yale.

Bruce Alexander is a 1965 graduate of pierson college and the Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and
Campus Development